Twelfth Draw in London Sends Carlsen-Caruana to Playoffs on Wednesday

The final classical game in London was drawn, Photo IM Eric Rosen

The twelfth straight draw at the Magnus Carlsen-Fabiano Caruana match in London will send the top two chess players in the World into a rapid tiebreak for the World Championship title. The four game rapid match, followed by blitz  and finally, Armageddon if needed, is set for Wednesday, November 28th (10 AM ET).

Chess fans braced themselves for anti-climax as Fabiano Caruana was surprised in the Open Sicilian, Sveshnikov Variation. In the previous two Open Sicilians, Fabiano played quickly and confidently, but this time, he quickly got under time pressure after Carlsen’s new wrinkle, ….h5. There was a chance the game could end in repetition long before move 30, though Garry Kasparov later said that he was fully confident Caruana would not acquiesce to a draw.

Caruana was not immediately rewarded for valiantly fighting on. Instead, the American challenger found himself under pressure on the board on the clock.

And then, to the shock of the chess world, Carlsen offered a draw on move 31.

IM Kostya Kavutskiy annotates the games, and offers his thoughts on the most controversial draw of the match.

Interact with Eric Rosen, who is taking over our [email protected] using the hashtag #CarlsenCaruana. is the tournament website.  

IM Kostya Kavutskiy is a professional chess player, coach, and writer. Check out his twitter and Patreon page for instructive chess analysis and advice for improvement.


  1. Tiebreak games unfair due to huge rating difference which did not exist in the slow games they’ve been contesting. FIDE should stop the match prior to allowing unfair portion to take place. FIDE stopped K v K in the ‘80s due to similar concerns.

    • Um, no. And K-K I was stopped for precisely the opposite reason (no upper limit of classical games led to the farce–thanks for the great idea, Bobby Fischer).

  2. Recommended rule change to reduce the number of draws:
    The player who on the move brings about a three time repetition of the position loses.

    • in a position where the moves are forced between both players to keep an equal position, it is unfair that one player would lose because of that rule.

      • So each player needs to avoid positions where they need to repeat to keep the position even….unless you like draws,….then the three time repeat for a draw is great.

          • Of course draws happen in chess. The rule change is intended to reduce them. Capa wanted to add more pieces….Lasker suggested castling not be allowed, both suggestions to try to reduce the percentage of draws.

  3. Without a question, there could be little successful paid television coverage of the world
    championship without an absolute certainty in the number of games that could possibly be played. With only 12 games in the “regular” format, each and every game assumes a far greater importance, and thus a far greater viewer appeal. An “ultimate championship” day,
    like today, WILL generate massive viewer interest – great for the promotion of the game.
    But, as several have pointed out, rapid chess is quite a different game
    than that with longer time controls. College Football has an overtime with rules that are
    quite different from regular play, as does soccer with goal kicks, hockey with penalty shots, etc. For the same reasons, chess has followed suit. It is up to the individual governing bodies to determine how appropriate this course of action is.

    Rob Jones

  4. […] “Accompanied by what most, including Kasparov could only label as an ‘inexplicable’ or ‘shocking’ or ‘cowardly’ draw offer, which Caruana accepted after a bit of thought. At first I was ready to brand Magnus as a coward as well, but after hearing him in the press conference, where he was very clear about his intentions for the game (shutting it down), his decision to offer a draw here seems perfectly reasonable to me. It’s not like he was ever clearly winning, just better. In a tournament, he would press on undoubtedly, as we’ve seen him do multiple times even if a draw would clinch first place! But here, he had his mind set before the game, and accomplished what he came to do.” – (source: U.S. Chess) […]

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